AMD Radeon HD 6850 and Radeon HD 6870

Review

posted 1/24/2011 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: PC


Now on to the Radeon HD 6850. The Radeon HD 6850 runs at 775MHz for the core and has 960 stream processors. Like the Radeon HD 6870, the Radeon HD 6850 contains 1GB of DDR5 memory but it runs at a speed of 4000MHz, slightly slower than the 6870. The decrease in various hardware specifications will cost you around $80 less, making the Radeon HD 6850 a sub-$200 card from some vendors. If you’re wondering where the Radeon HD 6850 is lined up against in terms of NVIDIA, the price range sets it to compete with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 768MB cards.

When talking about the physical nature of the Radeon HD 6850, the card is a more normal length card. The bracket is the same as the 6870, where it has two Dual-DVI connectors, two Mini-DisplayPort 1.2 connections, and one full sized HDMI 1.4a connector.

127W is the max power draw with the Radeon HD 6850 while at idle, it’s the same as the 6870 at 19W. Only one 6-pin power connector is needed for the 6850 though, which is nice.

Both of these cards support dual GPU CrossFireX configurations so you can pair only one more GPU together. There’s only one CrossFireX bridge connector and the reason being is that for this is that AMD thinks that with this range of cards, you’ll probably only be seeing dual card configurations rather than the triple card capabilities seen in higher end video cards.

As for other features that come with the 6800 series, 3D gaming is finally among one of them. Rather than offering a complete solution like NVIDIA, AMD is opting to go with third party support such as iZ3D and giving you the choice of what glasses and what monitors to use. Is it the right approach? I say it’s a different approach that I don’t mind seeing. Just as long as you get a good experience out of it, I’m all for choices and the more the better.

DirectX 11, is of course, supported and the 6800 series has improved tessellation. You know, the feature where it takes a lower-polygon model and combines it with a displacement map to generate a more detailed object while using less bandwidth to achieve a higher polygon count model. AMD was first the market with DirectX 11 cards and they’ve been supporting tessellation, a major feature of DX11, for a while now so they’re no strangers in this area.

If you’re into multi-display setups, Eyefinity is made for you. Up to six displays can be driven by just one card whereas those that want more than two displays with a NVIDIA card must shell out the money for two of them. I saw a six monitor Eyefinity setup at CES last year and it’s quite an impressive visual experience.

AMD also has their own parallel computing technology that companies can take advantage of. GPU compute lets you split up tasks into multiple threads and use the graphics card to operate on them independently garnering a faster processing time instead of a linear computing approach. One prime example is video transcoding, a process that can by separated into multiple parallel processing tasks and fed through an AMD Radeon card to be worked on by the stream processors inside where it would take less time to complete than if you just used the CPU for this task.
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